Citizens for Recycling First

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Citizens for Recycling First is a front group set up by the American Coal Ash Association that seeks to promote the idea that coal waste is safe and ought to be used as fill in domestic and industry products.[1]

The American Coal Ash Association (ACAA) is an umbrella lobbying group for all coal ash interests that includes major coal burners Duke Energy, Southern Company and American Electric Power as well as dozens of other companies (see below). The group argues that the so-called "beneficial-use industry" would be eliminated if a "hazardous" designation was given for coal ash waste.

Criticism of coal opponents

On their website, Citizens for Recycling First write[2]

  • "In their zeal to attack coal, environmental groups and the news media have begun falsely labeling coal ash as “toxic” — despite the fact that it is no more toxic than other common materials it replaces when used as a product."
  • "In an effort to assert federal jurisdiction over the disposal of coal ash, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated that it is considering classifying coal ash as a “hazardous waste” when destined for disposal."

Federal Coal Combustion Products Partnership

ACAA helped set up the Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2), a cooperative effort between the U.S. EPA, the American Coal Ash Association, the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the Electric Power Research Institute to "help promote the beneficial use of Coal Combustion Products (CCPs) and the environmental benefits that result from their use."[3]

The C2P2 project was suspended after the EPA released a March 23, 2011 inspector general report stating that the federal government had promoted some uses of coal ash, including wallboard or filler in road embankments, without properly testing the environmental risks. The report said wallboard "may represent a large universe of inappropriate disposal applications with unknown potential for adverse environmental and human health impacts." Coal ash recyclers and manufacturers that use it have argued that tougher federal regulations would place a stigma on the substance and hinder efforts to reuse some of the 130 million tons produced at U.S. coal-fired power plants each year. The program was started in 2001 with a goal of increasing the recycling of coal ash for use in other applications.[4]

Forged petition

In the fall of 2012, Citizens for Recycling First submitted a petition to the White House that they claimed was signed by 5,400 U.S. residents opposing tightened regulation of coal ash dumpsites. The petition was later found to included hundreds of fake Chinese signatures, according to a linguistic analysis commissioned by the non-profit Environmental Integrity Project (EIP).[5]

ACAA Members


  • John N. Ward, Chairman. A biographical note states that he is "a consultant to the energy industry" and a "former board member and past president of the American Coal Council", and a "former chairman of the Government Relations Committee of the American Coal Ash Association and participates in numerous industry groups related to the manufacturing and use of construction materials."[6]

Contact details

Citizens for Recycling First
600 17th Street, Suite 2800 South
Denver, CO 80202-5428

Articles and resources


  1. Coal-Fired Utilities to American Public: Kiss my Ash & PolluterWatch, October 27, 2010.
  2. "Why Citizens" Citizens for Recycling First web site, accessed November 8, 2010.
  3. "Coal Combustion Products Partnership" EPA’s Resource Conservation Challenge, accessed March 2011.
  4. Dylan Lovan, "Report: EPA didn't properly assess coal ash risks" AP, March 24, 2011.
  5. "Meet Coal Ash's Fake New Chinese Friends: "Big Steamed Bun" and 'Handsome Dragon,'" EIP, June 28, 2012.
  6. Citizens for Recycling First, "About our Chairman", Citizens for Recycling First website, accessed March 2011.

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